Committee Approves Petri Bills to Ease Barriers to Adoption
HARRISBURG – Two bills, sponsored by Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks), to ease the adoption process in Pennsylvania were voted out of the House Children and Youth Committee Monday.
“My legislation addresses the most common barriers to adoption in Pennsylvania – the timely termination of parental rights and the timeframe during which parental consent to an adoption may be revoked,” said Petri. “House Bill 57
would streamline and expedite the procedures for relinquishment or termination of parental rights. It would clarify the legal process and leave little room for alternate interpretations and outcomes. This certainty is needed to allay fears by adoptive parents that the rules could change during the adoption process.”
Current law requires the court to set a hearing date no fewer than 10 days after the relinquishment petition is filed, but does not stipulate a deadline for scheduling the hearing. This leaves the child’s status in limbo and adoptive parents in fear that the birth parent may reclaim the child at any time. Petri’s bill would require the courts to set a hearing date no more than 20 days after the birth parent relinquishes their parental rights. It also takes into account the rights of putative fathers, defining what constitutes a diligent search to identify and locate them and providing for such.
In related legislation, Petri’s House Bill 58
would reduce the amount of time birth parents have to revoke consent for an adoption from 30 days to 14 days after a birth mother gives her formal consent. The bill would also eliminate the timetable for a birth parent or putative father who has consented to an adoption to challenge the validity of that consent.
“Thousands of children are currently awaiting adoption in Pennsylvania, yet our state laws are frustrating the process – moving would-be adoptive parents to seek adoptions outside Pennsylvania or in other countries,” said Petri. “Many couples are unwilling to endure the emotional stress of bonding with a child only to have the child reclaimed by the birth parents at the end of a 30-day waiting period, as well as the cost created by unnecessary additional steps in the process. These bills would help to clarify and ease the adoption process for everyone involved.”
Petri’s adoption reform measures received overwhelming support in the House Children and Youth Committee and the full House last session, but the Senate failed to act on them. Petri reintroduced the bills at the start of the 2017-18 legislative session.
Representative Scott Petri
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham